Insights / Interior Design
”Collaborations are key to developing circular supply chains”
On experiences from 70 years of working with circularity
31 Jan 2023

Who are you?

—I’m working at Tarkett as Nordic Segment Manager for Workplace and Hospitality, as well as responsible for Carpets in the Nordics.

Tell us about your circularity work. How do you work?

—We started our circularity journey already back in the 1950s when we began to recycle production waste. In the early 2000s, we started to collect and recycle installation offcuts and from 2019, we’ve implemented take-back and recycling flows for post-consumer or old floorings, such as for our Carpet tiles. 

— Today we have a take-back and recycling program called ReStart. It makes it possible for us to close the loop and recycle materials of not only carpets but also vinyl and linoleum, in most cases used for new floorings. We also provide the logistical solution and are collaborating with customers such as modular house builders, deconstruction companies, material inventory companies, and property owners to identify and find recyclable material, says Wennerstrand. She continues:

— We believe that a circular business model is the way forward. Develop circular supply chains to reduce the risk of resource scarcity, enabling a sustainable solution for our customers who are facing the same challenges about reducing their impact on the environment, and be a role model showing that circularity is possible. With the ever-increasing demand for sustainable products, we believe that companies in the future must have a sustainable mindset to be competitive. Circularity is not only about taking back and reusing material though, but also about developing new products that will be recyclable in the future. This is a key part of the development of new products. We’re evaluating the materials in detail, which is third-party reviewed — making sure the final product reflects our ambitions. 

— Since 2019 we have had our own Recycling Centre for carpet tiles in the Netherlands. With our take back and recycling program, we take used backing and reform them into new EcoBase backing as well as the separated yarn PA6 Econyl which is recycled, regenerated, and reintegrated into new carpet tiles. This means that used yarn becomes new yarn and used backing new backing.

Maria Wennerstrand.

What’s been the most challenging when implementing circularity in your daily operations like this?

—One of our bigger challenges, still, is finding the material. Those who are our usual customers might not necessarily be those that we work with to find and collect material. We continue to learn more about who to involve and what their situation looks like as well as their demands. Everyone wants sustainable products with recycled material; however, all parts of the value chain need to collaborate to generate this recycled material. 

— We can recognize our own carpet tiles that come back from the market, so we know which of our floors that are recyclable. We don’t have that information about other flooring manufacturers’ products but when material from other flooring companies is coming back to us, we can still identify the type of yarn that is used.

Tarkett’s Recycling Centre.

For any company in the lifestyle industries that’s new to working with circularity, where to start?

—Be transparent with your customers about the extent of what is recyclable. For something to be recyclable, it first has to be collected in some way, which requires a logistical solution, and then, secondly, recycled into raw material. A good start is to do pilots and figure out a good logistical solution before officially launching it. A recycling system which is difficult to use will not be successful. Identify your customer who will benefit from your circularity efforts, identify the waste management supply chain, who would sort your material, who would identify your material, who would collect it, says Wennerstrand.

We hear a lot about the coming EU legislation from the EU, have you adapted to that yet?

—It is something that is being monitored by our colleagues in the HQ in France. Repairability, product passports, certifications and similar topics are something we’re continuously working with. We’re prepared for many of the topics by working with, for instance, the climate impact of our products, healthy and sustainable raw materials, and social sustainability.

How will you continue your work with circularity onwards?

—Continue to work on our products that aren’t recyclable today such as changing the composition or developing ways to recycle them and finding new collaborations to identify recyclable material. Today we are investigating the opportunities with different ways of re-using our products. As an example, in our new DESSO x RENS line, we are using rejected carpet tiles, and re-design them into new carpet tiles, says Wennerstand. She adds:

— Collaborations are key to developing circular supply chains. As an example, for our carpet tiles, we have a collaboration with Aquafil. The customer of the product is also a contributor, their effort in recycling the products enables the rest of the supply chain to work in a sustainable way and deliver new products made of sustainable material.

DESSO x RENS by Studio Rens.